The field is set for the 2019 MLB Postseason and it all begins tonight at Nationals Park with Milwaukee visiting Washington in the National League Wild Card Game. The Pirates missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season in 2019, but several Curve alumni are in the hunt for the World Series.
The two NL Central clubs that reached the playoffs, St. Louis and Milwaukee, do not feature a single former Curve player. Good news for fans of the Buccos. However, the other three squads fighting for the NL pennant each have one.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites in the NL and Casey Sadler has been a staple in their bullpen since picked him up in a trade from Tampa Bay on July 3. He was the leading starter on the 2013 Curve and was the team’s Pitcher of the Year. Sadler also pitched a few games for the Curve in 2017. He pitched for the Pirates during the 2014-15 seasons and returned in 2018 after Tommy John forced him to sit out the 2016 season.
Hunter Strickland was another mid-season acquisition by his current club, the Washington Nationals. Strickland, a member of the 2012 Curve, started the year with Seattle and was traded at the deadline to bolster Washington’s bullpen. Strickland is in search of his second World Series ring after he won the 2014 title with the San Francisco Giants, where he spent the 2013-18 seasons, and has appeared in 11 playoff games in his big-league career.
Former Pirates fan-favorite Francisco Cervelli is with the Atlanta Braves after Pittsburgh released him in August to pursue opportunities with a contender. He certainly found that with an Atlanta club that won 97 games to get the 33-year-old catcher back in the MLB Postseason for the first time since 2015. He was part of the Yankees’ 2009 and 2010 playoff teams but was not on the 2009 World Series roster. Cervelli, although he does not count towards the Curve’s MLB Alumni List, appeared in three games during the 2018-19 seasons on MLB rehab.
The American League Wild Card Game between Oakland and Tampa Bay on Wednesday will have several former Curve players on the field.
Robbie Grossman is in the playoffs for the second time in his MLB career with the Athletics after he played for the Twins in 2017. Also a former Astro, Grossman played 95 games for the Curve in 2012 before he was traded to Houston that July for Wandy Rodriguez.
The Tampa Bay Rays will start Charlie Morton, who pitched in six games for the Curve from 2013-15, in Wednesday’s Wild Card Game. Morton won the World Series with the Astros in 2017 and is scheduled to appear for his third different team in his playoff career. Two members of the 2015-16 Curve teams and key pieces in the Chris Archer trade are also with the Rays during their first playoff appearances since 2013: right-handed pitcher Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Austin Meadows.
Last but certainly not least, Gerrit Cole seeks his first World Series title with the AL-favored Houston Astros. The Cy Young candidate led baseball in strikeouts and won 20 games for the first time in his career during his second season in Houston. Cole rose quickly through the Pirates’ developmental ladder and started 12 games for the Curve in 2012.
There you have it. From the Wild Card Games to the World Series, there are eight former Curve players that have a chance to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy within the next month. If the Braves, Dodgers, Nationals, A’s, Astros or Rays win it all in 2019, it will add to the list of Altoona’s World Series Champions. Click here for the full list of past champions.